Password Safe: Solid management tool for technical users

Password Safe requires you do leave your browser and launch a website from the appropriate entry.

Password Safe requires you do leave your browser and launch a website from the appropriate entry.

Password Safe has an excellent pedigree: The original version of this password database was designed by security expert Bruce Schneier. The current version follows the design path laid down in the early 2000s--and that's a problem, because user needs have moved on.

Password Safe is a solid tool for storing, organizing, and searching for passwords, but it sits outside the browser environment. You must constantly switch back and forth between it and the browser. While you can connect a Password Safe entry to an associated website, this still requires you to leave the browser, bring up the Password Safe application, and launch the site from the appropriate entry, using the "Browse to Entry And Autotype" command (or use Ctrl-T, which is explained in the documentation, but which does not appear as a shortcut in the right-click menu).

There are many good things about Password Safe. It's open source, which not only means it's free, but it means the code can be inspected by thousands of people who can verify that it works as promised and that there is nothing hidden. Given recent revelations about the degree to which much security software has been compromised, this is not a trivial aspect of the product. Autotype uses a default syntax to handle this. Some sites might not follow this pattern, but there are extensive customization options you can set on a specific entry, handled via a string of embedded commands, such as using \m to enter the email address associated with the entry. You can also vary the timing of commands, or specify lines from the "notes" entry to be used as part of the command string. This is a high level of flexibility, but it's a bit clunky compared to more tightly integrated applications.

The interface design, while dated, is perfectly functional, clean, and generally intuitive. (I noticed one bug: When I added a group, an item changed its name to the name of the group. This cleared itself up when I forced the tree to refresh again.) A user can set various actions for double-click, shift-double-click, and run, allowing a high degree of customization.

While every user can benefit from better password management, Password Safe is a tool for more technical users, especially those whose needs don't entirely revolve around their favorite browser. I can see Password Safe being useful for managing logins to multiple console window sessions, for example. In addition, it is immune to functionality loss due to changes in browser specification or how plug-ins or extensions are handled. Lastly, the fact that it is free makes it an option for anyone for whom even the less expensive commercial programs are still out of reach.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags applicationssecuritysoftware

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Ian Harac

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place